Making Peace with the Dark
As a kid, I was terrified of the dark. I can remember it in a completely visceral way, if I close my eyes and go back there. My mom leaving my bedroom door half open and the hall light on, and me with my blankets pulled up to my chin, worrying that if I closed my eyes, someone might get the best of me and turn that light off. And forget night lights- those just cast creepy shadows that were worse than the pitch blackness.
I can't say that I can recall any specific childhood event that might have triggered this fear, but it followed me in some shape, way, or form all the way through my teen years and well into my early twenties. Any phobia or paranoia I kept tucked under wraps somehow involved the darkness. Someone or something lurking in my dark closet. Waiting at the bus stop at night. Being home alone at night. Even the idea of death didn't bother me so much as the idea of my body being buried in a dark, enclosed coffin. (Full disclosure: I have made it abundantly clear to my father, my youngest brother, and my partner that I will haunt their asses if I am not cremated upon shuffling off this mortal coil. I still haven't gotten over that one, as irrational as I know it to be).
In my experience, it seems that harbouring a fear of the dark is not really all that uncommon. Fear itself is a darkness. We label anything unsavory as "dark." We aim to banish, suppress, or deny any habits, behaviours, or actions that might be considered undesirable by others. When someone commits an act we find unfathomable, the perpetrator is cast as someone with a "black heart." When we are grappling with life's most challenging moments, it is said we are in a "dark" place. We are either terrified to share our imperfections, or we are busy judging and condemning others for theirs. Both ends of the spectrum leave us feeling separate and disconnected.
What if we considered that darkness is integral to our well-being and soul growth? That fear itself is an invitation to go inward and explore the stories that we have been allowing to hold us back from living in way that is closer to our authentic selves?
Much of life and transformation begins in the dark: the conception of animal life, the growth of the fetus, the germination of a seed, the transformation within a caterpillar's cocoon. We rely on the darkness to bring about rejuvenating and restorative sleep. Without aspects of darkness, we wouldn't know light. Without life's challenges, we wouldn't know our strength, bravery, and capacity to find connection with those who feel the same pain as we do. Joy would easily be taken for granted without knowing its opposite force.
We live in a world of duality. Learning to see the beauty and opportunities inherent in this reality, rather than living in fear of what seems dark, is where we find a door to freedom. Embracing our full selves, as well as releasing our judgements of others, is where true healing begins.
In my next post, I'd like to delve into what the Shadow side of ourselves means, and how we can begin to dialogue with these "darker" aspects to better find love for both ourselves and others.
Peace to you in both the Light and Dark.